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Cokinos grew up in Beaumont, Texas. During the Great Depression, life was pretty strict for him. His parents made sure that they lived modestly. He went to the local public schools and was offered a scholarship to play basketball at Texas A&M University. He graduated from OCS [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: OfficerÂ’s Candidate School] on November 11th, 1943. He was sent to Ft. Polk, Louisiana where he joined the 8th Armored Division as a forward observer for the infantry.After Ft. Polk they left for France. They landed in France in late October 1944.They trained a lot of British soldiers when they were there.By December they were supporting the Battle of the Bulge. They were surprised because intelligence had indicated the Germans were too weak at that spot in the line. The intelligence proved to be wrong and the Germans counterattacked. In Nennig, Germany they jumped off to counterattack the Germans. As a 2nd Lieutenant he found himself attacking the Germans. Around 24 December they attacked from the Nennig area.Cokinos was directing artillery fire with his commanding officer Colonel Parnier when an 88 German Tank [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: a German tank with an 88mm shell, probably a Tiger tank] came around their flank and made them retreat.Another time Cokinos was cited for directing artillery fire for over 2 and a half hours on a German strong point. Eventually the Germans raised the white flag. Over 200 of the enemy were killed.Cokinos lost Colonel Parnier 1 day when he was up on the line. He came back to get orders and 2 men pointed into a courtyard where he had been shot, along with the 2 medics who ran out to save him. The Germans had snipers covering the courtyard. He was able to commandeer a half track and roll it on top of his friend and pull his body up through the bottom of the half track. He had never heard so many snipers in his life.As Cokinos applied first aid to Colonel Parnier, the artillery worsened. He covered Parnier's body so as not to let him get hurt any worse than he was. About 5 weeks later Parnier came up and hugged Cokinos for helping save his life.
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